Federal appeals halts solitary confinement practice

PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Pennsylvania prisons can no longer keep former death-row inmates in solitary confinement after their sentences have been changed.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on Thursday ruled that inmates who were slated for capital punishment but later received new sentences have a right to avoid solitary confinement. The three judges serving on the panel cited the harmful psychological effects of lone imprisonment.

Pennsylvania’s prisons will be required to reintroduce those inmates to the general population if deemed safe.

The decision stemmed from two lawsuits filed by Philadelphia men who were both sentenced to death but later received new sentences. Both sought damages for the extra years they spent in solitary.

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